Monday, May 21, 2012

Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen

Location: 1625 N Halsted
Cost: About $15 per person

The whole strip of restaurants on Halsted from North to Willow has left me unimpressed ever since I moved to that part of town. For the most part, they're overpriced, moderately generic, and serve the sole purpose of feeding people before or after they hit up a show at Steppenwolf. For the record, this doesn't include Balena which recently opened up in the same strip and I've yet to try. Well the other week, Amanda and Jess wanted to get a quick bite and catch up since we hadn't hung out in a while. Amanda, also living in my part of town, saw this new place Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen and suggested we try it out.

Dawali is a very simple setup, and for now it doesn't seem to be too much trouble to walk right in (although they take reservations). They've got plenty of seating and can easily accommodate large groups. It's right off the North and Clybourn red line which makes transportation pretty simple.

The service was spot on. The waiter gave us plenty of time to chat and hang out while not forgetting about us. The food came out pretty quickly, and his suggestions were insightful. The cost is pretty good with most entrees ringing in around $13. You can split a few appetizers to start in the $5 ballpark too. What really looked cool were the large combo platters that some of the bigger parties were getting. Also, it was BYOB.

The Food
We started off with a few things including the Spinach Pie, the Masaka's, and the Baba Ghannouj. The pie was very doughy and the filling had too much lemon. The Masaka's was a mixed grilled vegetable salad with peppers and eggplant playing the main roles. It was a little mushy but really garlicy and right up my alley. The Baba had a nice consistency with a strong eggplant flavor.

 The Spinach Pie

For our main dishes Jess got the Beef Shawerma and Lamb Kebab Combo, Amanda got the Chicken Kebab, and I got the Beef Shawerma. The platters all came with yellow rice, tahini, salad, and a garlic dipping sauce. The chicken kebab had a strong herbal rub and wasn't dried out at all. The beef shawerma had a really strong acidity but kept a hearty savoriness. It was served in an almost pulled fashion, making it a bit stringy and chewy, but the flavor was strong despite the texture.

The Combo Platter

The Chicken Kebab

The Beef Shawerma

It's nice to have a casual BYOB Mediterranean spot in my backyard. I want to go back with a big group and get some of those large party platters. A few dishes were strong while others had some textural troubles. For the most part though, it's a convenient option that brings a new twist to the neighborhood. I'm giving them 3 out of 5 Pearls.

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